Native American Jemez Handbuilt and Handpainted Wedding Vases
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Native American Jemez Handbuilt and Handpainted Wedding Vases by Mary Small
The Wedding Vase is an ancient vessel still used in traditional Pueblo wedding ceremonies. One spout of the vessel represents the husband and the other the wife. The looped handle represents the unity achieved with marriage. The space created within the loop represents the circle of life. In the traditional ceremony, the couple drink nectar (prepared by the medicine man) from the spouts to represent the blending their lives. The pot is a reflection of the ancient rite.
Native American potter and sculptor Mary Small, of Jemez Pueblo New Mexico, IACA Artist of the Year for 2002, has learned to work clay in the traditional coiling method of her ancestors, using clays dug on Jemez land and hand-painted with clay glazes which are fired outdoors over cottonwood coals after each application of color. She and her husband, Ivan Small, developed the delicate matte gray glaze that distinguishes their pieces from other Native American potters. Pottery making is a continuing prayer in her life. I ask a blessing for each stage. Before beginning to make pottery, I ask Mother Earth to give me good clay because my belief is strong. I respect my potteries. When they are finished, they are blessed. They have power. Whoever buys the pottery should have a nice home, a happy life and a sacred object because there are a lot of prayers in my potteries. Each piece of pottery is a contribution to the interaction with nature so necessary for protection of the people on earth. She has won many awards for her pottery including Santa Fe Indian Market, Powhatan Renape Nation Indian Arts Festival, Heard Museum Show, New Mexico State Fair, Gallup Inter-tribal Indian Ceremonial, and Indian Artist of the Year. She was taught by her mother, Perfectita Toya, and Mary has been making pottery since 1950. Mary Small's pottery is featured in the Heard Museum, the Denver Museum of Natural History and the Smithsonian Institution, as well as in permanent collections throughout the country.